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Ye or Nay? Controversial Marketing Goes Wrong

Ye or Nay? Controversial Marketing Goes Wrong

The clothing brand creator and well-known musician Kanye West – also known as “Ye” – has recently drawn criticism for his antisemitic remarks and contentious Yeezy Season 9 line. Kanye has been creating waves in the fashion industry for years by working with various labels and designers and launching his own clothing line. However, his most recent collection features inappropriate messages that, as the word spreads, have sparked outrage in the fashion world and beyond. Moving through the timeline of Kanye’s rise and fall, examining the motivations behind his questionable decisions and their effects on the public exposes a clear narrative. This narrative goes a considerable way to explaining how “Ye” has turned to “Nay” in the fashion industry.

Kanye’s Contribution to Fashion

Kanye West was never a stranger to fashion. In his early musical career, he worked with multiple fashion designers to create his wardrobe — several of his brands featured in his songs as a tribute. Alongside Virgil Abloh of Off-White, he interned at Fendi in 2009. Before launching his successful brand Yeezy in 2015, Kanye had a few fashion ventures under his belt in the early 2010s, including Pastelle and DW by Kanye West.

Yeezy combined sports-luxe, shapewear, and utilitarian clothing, which helped to develop the Yeezy look. He favoured muted, monochromatic colours and layered, baggy silhouettes in addition to crisp, form-fitting cuts reflecting his style. But among fashionistas and sneakerheads everywhere, it was his Yeezy sneakers that shot to fame. The Yeezy 350 exploded onto the scene through his collaboration with Adidas. After its astronomical success, it subsequently underwent numerous colour and design changes. Even now, this may be Kanye’s best-selling piece of all time.

Other noteworthy events in his career include the Yeezy Season 3 show, where he invited members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan to walk in his presentation. For Season 6, he also abandoned the idea of a runway presentation. Instead, he used social media to share paparazzi photos of his then-wife Kim Kardashian sporting the line, which attracted significant attention from the public. Along with working with Adidas, Yeezy has also formed alliances with companies like Gap and Balenciaga. After agreeing to a 10-year partnership with Gap, they developed the Yeezy Gap, engineered by the Balenciaga line, which debuted in early 2022.

The Beginning of “Ye”/Kanye’s Downfall

Despite Yeezy’s successes and advancements, scandal almost defines Kanye’s life and career. Regardless of the bold move to change his name to “Ye” (a choice he justified with the reasoning that it means “you”, deriving from the apparent connectivity between himself and people), he has become more disconnected from the public than ever before. His presentation has been scrutinised more recently since Yeezy’s Season 9 Paris fashion show featured multiple pieces with the phrase “White Lives Matter” – in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. For this collection, Kanye collaborated with right-wing commentator Candace Owens. Many others, including Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, editor of Vogue, remarked that this risky advertisement should not be passed off as art since it sends the incorrect message. As a result, black activists have advised fans to rethink their support for Kanye’s collection. As a retort, Kanye verbally attacked Gabriella Karefa-Johnson on his social media accounts.

So why would he risk losing everything through his inflammatory beliefs after having such a successful fashion career and rapid advancement? It is absurd to claim that Kanye did not anticipate this outcome or the adverse reaction to his collection. I wondered if this was his core philosophy or another attention-grabbing tactic to keep everyone’s eyes on Yeezy. He is confident his actions won’t have a long-term impact on his career. “Ye” has previously been involved in scandals and has always recovered from them. Since negative publicity has always been crucial to Kanye’s rise to fame, his most recent collection may have been just another publicity stunt to get people talking about him once more.

Stunt or Not – the Fall Continues

This scandal comes after Kanye terminated his contract with Gap 2 years in as they disagreed on product distribution and creating dedicated YZY GAP stores. In addition, he alleges that Adidas stole his ideas and gave him insufficient control over their collection, which ultimately caused the end of their long-standing collaboration. Furthermore, Twitter and Instagram suspended Kanye’s accounts after he made a string of antisemitic comments on Fox News and across his social media. Finally, due to the impact of the rapper’s words on their reputation, Balenciaga severed their relationship with him and withdrew all runway photos from their ads and the Vogue website.

After discovering that Kanye West’s most recent Yeezy collection disappeared from Vogue’s website, Vogue and Anna Wintour have also decided to part ways with him. A representative from Conde Nast has shared that Anna Wintour has “made it very clear inside Vogue that Kanye is no longer part of the inner circle” after his offensive rants and antisemitism. 

Many firms and influential people in the fashion world have severed relations with Yeezy and the “Ye” personal brand due to Kanye’s successful attempt to draw attention to his collection for the wrong reasons. This time, the effects of Kanye’s statements have gone too far and contributed to his fashion career’s demise. Because it was clear that his opinions were sincere, the companies that had previously supported him found it difficult to forgive him. In addition, he has dropped from the Forbes billionaires list after his net worth dropped since the end of his Adidas agreement.

One could argue that Kanye’s fall has been among the fastest in fashion history.

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